Mechanism and kinetics of biodiesel thermal degradation

Ronghong Lin, Yiying Zhu, Lawrence L. Tavlarides

Research output: Chapter in Book/Entry/PoemConference contribution


Biodiesel, as renewable fuel, has been used in conventional diesel engines in the pure form or as biodiesel/diesel blends for many years. However, thermal stability of biodiesel has been minimally explored. In this study, thermal stability of soybean oil based commercial biodiesel was investigated. Thermal stressing of biodiesel was performed in batch reactors at 250 - 425 °C for a residence time varying from 3 to 63 min. Biodiesel samples were collected and analyzed by GC-FID and GC-MS. It was observed that biodiesel remained stable at 275 °C, and the stability reduced as temperature and residence time increased. The GC-FID and GC-MS analyses showed that biodiesel degradation at high temperatures involves mainly three types of reactions: isomerization reactions to form C18:2 isomers, the Diels-Alder reaction between C18:1 and C18:2 to form dimers, and thermal decomposition reactions to form smaller FAMEs, hydrocarbons and gas products. Accordingly, a six-lump model was proposed to describe the mechanism of biodiesel degradation. This model was further simplified to a three-lump model and then to the general first order reaction model. Finally, kinetics of biodiesel decomposition was simulated using both reversible and irreversible first order reaction models, and results show that the reversible model was superior to the irreversible one.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAIChE 2012 - 2012 AIChE Annual Meeting, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2012
Event2012 AIChE Annual Meeting, AIChE 2012 - Pittsburgh, PA, United States
Duration: Oct 28 2012Nov 2 2012

Publication series

NameAIChE Annual Meeting, Conference Proceedings


Other2012 AIChE Annual Meeting, AIChE 2012
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityPittsburgh, PA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Chemistry


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